Thursday, November 18, 2010

Listen more.

As a teacher or a coach we have captive audiences every day.  In a lot of ways, the lines of communication between us and our students are more wide open than between child and parent.  We have more opportunities to communicate, and communicate with a lasting impact.

Our best and brightest in all the nations throughout the world don't necessarily know the difference between right and wrong.  So, we can't always expect it from our kids.  Give it to your students or players straight.  Talk to kids.  Talk to kids, so that you provide the opportunity for yourself to listen to them.  Young people need it.  They need honesty.  They can handle it.  And they need to know that there are adults who will truly listen to them.

And don't be surprised if and when they listen to you.

If you do not tell kids why you are doing something, you are leaving them in the dark creating their own reasons. 

When we don't talk to kids, or we don't give them a straight and honest answer for something, we leave it up to them.  We sever the lines of communication.  Sometimes for good.

I've done it with 12 year old kids in the arts and I've done it with 22 year old college football players.  Basic honesty works everywhere.  Sugarcoating helps no one.

I had one-on-one meetings yesterday with the college players I coach.   I am responsible for 8 young men.  The day before the meeting I told them I want them to prepare themselves to speak to three things: a) something you want, b) something you didn't get, and c) anything - a completely open forum.

They knew they could frankly talk about me as their coach, themselves, their teammates, the team, anything.  Anything at all.  My feelings would not be hurt if they chose to criticize my performance.  We are in this together; we are all trying to be better; we are trying to improve.  But they had the floor.  They knew my self-imposed job was to listen to them and write it down.

The most overwhelming comment I received from them was that they knew I cared about them.

That's what coaching is, isn't it?

That's what teaching is, right?

Coaching is caring.  Teaching is caring.

We can't be leaders if we don't enjoy what they have to say.  Listen more.  Without this happening, and with the way families are today, young people will have little reason to respect us.

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